Welcome to the Montana Murdoch blog.

This site picks up where my Susan Murdoch web site left off–with some overlap.

I am a talker…and a worker…and I am grateful that technology has advanced to the point that a techno-boob like myself can actually post work without help, because, despite having been all but gifted a beautifully designed web site by the incomparable Pani Page, updates have become impossible. The work progresses, my thinking about it deepens or changes…and that beautiful site was left frozen in time, where I could not afford to update it.

So I’ve decided to leave it there. In part because, for now anyway, some of that work is done (Amor Mexicano), and some could not bear revision (Mother’s Milk). And in part because I think the imperfect journey is the more interesting one, and important to reveal, both for posterity, and because it is very edifying when artists talk straight with one another. We love the “overnight success” stories in America, but I don’t believe in them. I believe in showing your underwear. Like it or not, it’s the only way we move forward, and it’s the only way we humanize an overly rarefied, overly exclusive world. The average joe is too prone to say “I don’t know anything about art,” and thereby exempt themselves either from making, from experiencing, or from supporting it in their lives or communities.

I don’t know anything about art either, except what I have sought out and taught myself. The work I’ve done on that journey could easily be sniffed at. I sniff at some of it myself, as I move past it. But I also honor it, as each work was a step, an education, an encounter with materials, with ideas I wanted to capture, emotions, responses I wanted to express, conversations I wanted to have with the world.

I am also hoping this blog will bring me full circle, back to writing. I constructed my original website in a strange Bermuda-Triangle-of-the-mind period. I was entering perimenopause–which messes with each of us differently, but for me, a huge element of that chemical/hormonal cocktail was a foggy brain; I had spent a year in Oaxaca, where I didn’t know the language, thus reduced all communications into the simplest possible words; I entered into a period of near-constant silence…no house-mates, no co-workers, no neighbors to hang out with, even a dirth of visitors; I was stress-distracted, between poverty re-entry and making a “career change” at an age that the world at large did not find quite as sexy as when I’d made my last career change; and I was coming off of ten years in academia–not even artful academia, but scientific grant-writing academia. So writing was a struggle. Thinking was a struggle. And somehow, something that had always been extraordinarily easy for me–my bread and butter in many ways, for many years–was suddenly ponderous, laborious, stilted, uncertain…It was truly rather terrifying.

It was also my first experience with writing artistic statements–the art equivalent of auditioning–but I will open the Pandora’s box of my deeply ingrained Montana prohibition on self-aggrandizement another time and place.

With the exit of the blood from my life, it seems the brain may be returning. My old hyper-articulateness is not back, but still, language flows more naturally…and I sort of hope it will have a second life, a mental renaissance, with some joy and relief in expression, rather than just frustration. And this, I believe, is also a part of the artistic journey. Our circumstances–physical, economic, environmental, cultural–effect our ability to work, impact what we produce and how we produce it. So the old site will stay there, bearing witness both to the struggle and the accomplishment of getting it made, such as it was.

Feel free to look there. Feel free to look here. And I’ll keep talking, painting…and showing my underwear.

Don’t come in the laundry if you can’t stand the dainties!

Susana Montana–January 2012



  1. Debra Owen

    Fabulous! I’m so inspired. I’ve been “toying” with the frightening idea of telling… revealing… my (real) story. It’s so “not pretty” but I feel a need to own it in someway honorable. Maybe it’s time. My blog would have to be named “Not for the faint of heart”. ;-) hugs

  2. I really encourage you to follow that instinct, wherever it leads, Debra. You have developed your “hand,” so to speak–your skill set–and your language flows easily, with a solid aesthetic. That’s a great foundation to have for the stuff that digs deeper–it gives you an armor for the fight. And the tools to transform whatever it is that needs speaking. I think the world responds most deeply–is healed–by the stuff that goes deep enough to resonate. Sending you faith and my best juju for that leap. I look forward to seeing it. xxoo

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